NBA

NBA News and Notes: The Chris Paul Effect is Real

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On September 2nd, 2020, Chris Paul dropped a triple-double against his former team, the Houston Rockets, but the Oklahoma City Thunder lost in Game 7 of the first round of the NBA playoffs. That loss would only be by a single basket. The summer before that, Chris Paul was traded from Houston to Oklahoma City in exchange for another superstar guard in Russell Westbrook. Many basketball analysts predicted the Oklahoma City Thunder to have a horrible season, giving them only a tiny percentage of making the playoffs. Paul proved the doubters wrong by not only leading his team to a winning record but leading them to the 5th Seed in the Western Conference and a Game 7 matchup in the first round. 

Paul was drafted 4th overall in the 2005 NBA Draft, selected by the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. Following an 18-64 record in the 2004-05 season, Paul immediately made an impact, leading the team alongside players such as David West and J.R. Smith, to a 38-44 record. In his six full seasons with the Hornets, Paul would lead his team to three winning seasons and three playoff appearances. Paul would move to a bigger stage during the 2011-12 season. In December 2011, the Hornets agreed to send Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers, but the deal was nullified before completion by the NBA, who owned the Hornets at the time. He would soon be traded to the second Los Angeles team, the Clippers. 

Prior to the Chris Paul trade, the Clippers were one of the least popular and respected franchises in the league. Countless losing seasons and a lack of superstar talent led the Clippers to the No. 1 draft pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. The team would select a future star in Blake Griffin. The “Lob City Era” would begin with Paul’s trade to the Clippers. Following a 32-50 record season, the team immediately improved to 40-26 during the lockout season. The Clippers would not only make the playoffs at the end of the season, but they would also make the playoffs the following five seasons. While they had 50+ win seasons in the five full seasons Paul was with the Clippers, they struggled during the playoffs in the tough Western Conference. 

The 2017 offseason would see Chris Paul traded from the Clippers to the Houston Rockets, as the Clippers looked to rebuild. Pairing Paul alongside superstar shooting guard James Harden immediately improved the team. The Rockets improved from a 55-27 record to a 65-17 record. The Rockets would go to the Western Conference Finals, the deepest Paul had gone into the playoffs. The team ran into the Golden State Warriors, with the Big 3 of Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and Klay Thompson. The Houston Rockets organization felt they had reached their potential with the duo of Paul and Harden, and traded Paul to the Oklahoma City Thunder after two seasons. 

Following his single season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Chris Paul was shockingly traded to the Phoenix Suns. Prior to this season, the Suns had not made the playoffs since the 2009-10 season. In last season’s bubble, the Suns went 8-0, led by a young superstar in Devin Booker. The team jumped from a 34-39 record in the shortened 2019-20 season to a 51-21 record this season. Paul’s veteran presence helped in boosting the performances of players like Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. He played 70 out of 72 games this season and has played every game in the playoffs so far, despite a minor injury in the first round. Paul played an important role in the eliminations of the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers and sweep of the Denver Nuggets in the playoffs. Paul will now return to the NBA Western Conference Finals, facing either the Utah Jazz or L.A. Clippers. Paul will continue to have an impact not only on his teammates but the Western Conference Finals as well.

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